“Thank you,” Cielast smiled with a nod and put the scroll to the side.
“No need to thank me, I promised your mother to give it to you if she couldn’t,” Paintra grinned back at her while tossing another scroll into the pile.
“Now, I think I should get going.” Cielast continued, stretching her large wings as she yawned, her scales glittering brightly in the gleam of the sunlight.
“Have a nice journey and watch out, Waves and Azure are probably already sending guards to search you everywhere as I know them,” Paintra warned as she waved.
Cielast exited the cave, wandering back to the path she was on previously. In the distance, shrouded by a thick layer of mist, she sighted a large castle fabricated out of stone brick.
Her gaze turned back towards the forest on her side and through the thick green leaves, she could see a swift flash of blue scales bolt past her.
She remained silent, waiting for whatever was in the bushes to leave. As soon as the navy figure had left the area, she took another glimpse towards the cave. It appeared to be vacant, she assumed that Paintra had shuffled back into the pitch black corner of the cave where many scrolls resided.
She took a deep breath, eyeing the tall structure in the distance while her heart drummed in her chest. The whistle of the wind encouraged her to move on and she began to travel towards it.
The castle looked gargantuan up close, she gulped and stared down at her talons nervously. Curiosity was tugging on her wing, inviting her to investigate the castle further although a grim, unwelcome aura surrounded the area.
Her mind was filled with questions as she paced the ground in front of the castle, tapping her talons against the wall with a restless grumble.
I wonder if they’ll let me in through the entrance… she wondered thoughtfully.
Suddenly, there was a streak of orange scales that flickered across her vision as she narrowed her eyes. Talons extending, she swiftly turned towards where the figure had gone but there wasn’t a trace of someone that had passed by.
“I’m hallucinating again…” she sighed to herself and began to pace in front of the wall once again. Her eyes narrowed as the streaks of orange kept passing by, getting closer each time.
A twig broke swiftly as she finally wheeled around to face her opponent but it was too late. Huge silver talons grappled around her neck and brought her tumbling towards the ground.
Cielast gasped but quickly it was cut off by the talons as she struggled, looking up to see the one that had hold of her neck. Her vision was blurry and she squinted, ducking her head repeatedly.
Above her was a stern-looking scarlet adult dragon who had his talons firmly squeezing her throat as his coal black eyes narrowed down at her. She gasped once again, spreading her wings as a distraction to no avail.
The red figure eyed her up and down before hauling her across the ground. Her snout was dragged against the grass roughly, its green stalks tickling her snout.
Before she knew it, the ground below her was stone as her vision dimmed and the sunlight crept away from her. Writhing around in the adult dragon’s grasp, she peered at the area around her, struggling to see where she was.
He dragged her deeper into the black abyss with a snarl, his talons clanking loudly against the cold, stone floors. Attempting to wheel herself around to see the corridor that they headed through, she was greeted by blinding darkness that swallowed her vision.
What is he doing…? She questioned herself as the dragon loosened his grip on her neck, dropping her to the ground with chains rattling softly in the distance. He then tilted his head and stepped forward, facing back towards her way.
“Who are you?” his voice was quick, snappy and frightening.
“C-Cielast.” She muttered and was confused, backing up against a stone pillar nervously.
The dragon stood in thought for a moment and tapped his talon on his chin, his facial features were hidden by the blinding blackness that surrounded them.
“Hmm… interesting, why are you here?” the figure’s voice was now softer, but still sounded uneasy and untrustworthy.
“I was trying to escape from some dragons… I don’t know where I am but I was just trying to get to safety.” She whimpered up at the dragon and crippled into the corner with her wings wrapped around herself defensively. Cielast tried to get a good look at his face, but alas no light shone on it and the darkness remained, she couldn’t get a glance.
“Thrilling,” he barked a laugh and fiddled with something in his talons before glancing up at her again. “This is Flarius’ castle, I assume you don’t know your way around, I haven’t seen your face around here before.”
She shook her head with a gulp as he eyed her curiously.
“Would you like to meet with the king himself? I can schedule a meeting… You don’t seem dangerous…” he turned his head to the side shadily, gritting his fangs. “But that could just be a disguise…”
She was starting to get nervous as her wings drooped with a whimper.
“Sure, I would like to meet him. And what makes you think that… This is a disguise?” she asked, wondering why he was so suspicious.
His wings slowly bent down and eyed her from head to tail.
“There have been many incidents in the past with previous kings…” the dragon started to pace the floor in front of him, staring at the ground with rage filling his eye sockets, almost as if they were flames.
“I won’t let that happen again, I swore on my dead brothers and sisters.” He hissed, his voice now sounded hoarse as if he had a cold, but suspicious nonetheless.
“Oh, I can see why you’d do that if many incidents happened to them,” she mumbled, attempting to sound as innocent as possible.
“Indeed…” he continued to stare at her suspiciously, observing every little detail before a grin stretched across his face, but it was sly and devious.
Cielast looked up at him, confused as she pondered on what he was planning.
Walking across the floor in front of her, his talons stretched as he muttered unidentifiable words to himself. She was deeply frightened now, her heart pumping in her chest furiously as if it were trying to escape and run off into the forest.
“If you don’t mind me asking, what’s your name?” she asked, her fangs were chattering now.
“Castien,” he growled and peered over in her direction, one eye shadowed.
“And I am the underdog of the kingdom and I’ll be seizing the throne myself…” his voice became raspy and dark, “In honor of my ancestors, it is what I must do.
“You see, my family bloodline has always been higher than just a guard and I must continue said path in order to achieve greatness. I’ll be needing to kill the king when he least expects it, leading him into a trap and finishing him once and for all. ‘King Castien’, has a ring to it, hmm?” He laughed a distorted cackle while pressing his talons against the wall.
“Now, I’ve revealed this information since I’ve been wanting to ask you to join me on my quest... If you don’t, I’ll be very disappointed,” he glanced over in her direction, a spark of excitement glazing over his dimly lit face.
“I um… I think I’ll be on my way now,” she backed up against the wall and slowly slid towards the exit, only to find out it was already crowded by other huge, dangerous-looking dragons.
“Oh, didn’t I tell you I wasn’t alone? Well, isn’t that a shame. You already know all this information now, don’t you? I can’t trust you out there, knowing that I plot to kill the king now can I?” Castien’s voice got lower with a hint of amusement in it as he smiled at her creepily.
“I… I won’t tell anyone about this, I promise,” she blurted out with a gulp, knowing that was a lie. She couldn’t let a murderer run loose, especially with a plan to slaughter the king.
“Boohoo, we need more amusement down here anyway,” he frowned and dragged what seemed to be chains behind him.
Cielast recognized it as a torture method, designed to discipline prisoners who didn’t obey orders. Sadistic, she thought.
She then observed him as he stepped closer towards the light, he had a battle-scarred snout and deep coal eyes that swirled. His talons were made of steel and his horns had chains wrapped around them. His wings were big and torn, dragging across the cold stone floor.
The chains Castien was holding were red with heat and she guessed that he’d put them over hot coals before searching for an unfortunate victim.
He held them up above her snout as she screamed the word, “HELP,” as quickly as she could. Her heart began to beat faster in her chest and she gulped, feeling terror rattle her bones.
Castien then began to coil the chains around her snout as the smell of melting scales filled the room. Her roars of agony were muffled by the chains as she tried desperately to open her snout to no avail.
He then stood up, satisfied by the pain she was suffering from as she shook her head violently, attempting to whip the chains away. He gave her a sly smile and put his talon on the tip of her snout.
“Isn’t that a shame?” he sneered with a sarcastic snort and cackled distortedly as he walked away.
Steam hissed and swirled around her snout where the heated chains met Cielast’s pale blue scales. Her tail flickered around anxiously as smoke crowded her vision, all that she could see was the faint figure of a dragon slithering into the darkness once again. The dragons in the entrance of the cave peered down at her pityingly, but they were motionless.
If you cared, you’d free me, she wanted to scream at them but was unable to.
She winced at the pain in her snout as the chains slowly started to sizzle and crack her scales, sharp edges drilling into her flesh. Her emerald green eyes slowly closed as the heat died down a bit, but the pain was still unbearable. The sting seared through her scales deeply as she shuddered.
“You see, don’t come wandering into the unknown if you aren’t prepared, hatchling. We don’t give any mercy to “brave warriors” like yourself and we have killed many so far.” He paused and inhaled sharply before taking a brief pause.
“Maybe I’m just imagining things but there was an odd silver dragon that came into this place once and he looked like you. He was a sly fellow with big goals like mine but he wasn’t of competence. He journeyed along with his brother, Kyros, but he wasn’t any good either, I killed them both in just a few shots.” Castien snorted in amusement, clearly enjoying her expressions of agony.
Her thoughts buzzed, the silver dragon looked like her? Pyra had told Cielast that Adrian’s scales were gray. The thought of Castien’s victim being her father terrorized her. She winced and her eyes jerked open with a sigh, watching as the dragon paced the floor aimlessly with his forked tongue slipping in and out of his mouth. Some of his scales were missing, they were like a puzzle in his elongated body.
As the heat continued to die down, she finally managed to gather courage and touch the chains with her talons, trying to pull them off with brute force but they wouldn’t budge. They were cracked at one side, rusty and dull.
Castien’s voice cracked with amusement, “Yeah, try breaking them but it’s clearly not going to work for you.”
And suddenly… The chains snapped.